FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 4, 2012
ISSUES DRAFT INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER PERMIT RENEWAL FOR GEORGIA PACIFIC
conditions represent most stringent and comprehensive ever issued by DEP;
direct result of collaboration between the regulator, the regulated business
and the environmental community~
JACKSONVILLE - The Florida Department
Environmental Protection issued a draft permit today for the industrial
wastewater discharge of the Georgia Pacific (GP) facility in Palatka. This
permit is not only more protective of the St. Johns River
than the current permit, but also represents the most stringent and
comprehensive industrial wastewater permit ever issued by the Department.
This draft permit serves as a renewal of the permit issued in
2002, along with an Administrative Order that required GP to relocate its
wastewater from Rice Creek directly to the St. Johns River under certain
“This permit was drafted using years of data and sound science and
includes conditions that not only meet all requirements and obligations under
existing law, but also contains additional significant improvements above and beyond the current permit,” said DEP Secretary
Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “These commitments are the direct result of a collaboration
between the regulator, the regulated business and the environmental community
— a model that yielded success for the environment.”
conditions included in this permit are in addition to GP’s investment of nearly
$200 million in manufacturing improvements at the facility to significantly
reduce groundwater consumption and effluent loading.
DEP has worked diligently with the facility, incorporating
feedback from environmental and community stakeholders on the establishment of
extensive changes to the mill’s manufacturing processes. The modifications and conditions in this
draft permit have already resulted in a reduction in nutrients in the
discharge, but also improvement in color, salinity and consumptive use of
“The men and women at DEP were presented with a daunting task
after realizing that despite exhaustive
monitoring and exploration of alternatives the GP discharge would not meet
water quality standards in Rice Creek,” continued Secretary Vinyard. “I commend
the hard working staff of this agency who have spent years of their lives
analyzing data, reports and exploring alternatives to find ways to make this
permit provide greater protection of the St. Johns River.”
Based on the implemented improvements, the mill has seen a
reduction in water consumption from an average of 37 million gallons per day to
an average of 23 million gallons per day.
Additional improvements include a 66 percent reduction in color and a salinity reduction of 32 percent.
Monitoring also indicates a large reduction in nutrients, which
will assist in overall efforts to restore the St. Johns River and reduce the
potential for algal blooms so that the river can support healthy fish and
wildlife population. Monitoring results demonstrate a reduction in total
nitrogen of 54 percent and 73 percent reduction of total phosphorus. GP
currently surpasses its TMDL nutrient reduction obligations due to improvements
in the quality of its discharge over the last several years.
further ensure the River’s protection, the draft renewal permit requires the
continuance of on-going water quality studies and the assessment of fish
populations to monitor for any potential effects from the relocation of the
effluent discharge to the St. Johns River. GP is currently held to stringent discharge limits in its current permit, and there will be no increase in production or pollutant loadings in the renewal permit.
This renewal permit will further ensure that the relocation of the discharge will not negatively impact the St. Johns River, that GP will meet water quality standards in the river and that Rice Creek can be restored.
Public comment on the Draft Permit will be accepted through
November 19. The public meeting will be held on Nov. 13, 2012 at
Price-Martin Community Center in Palatka.